Frequently Asked Questions

It is our concern to be transparent about our work with laboratory animals and answer any upcoming questions that arise. In this section you can find a collection of the most frequent questions about animal studies.

About the Research

Why are animal studies still used in pharmaceutical research?

Animal studies are needed to simulate how the human body will react to a new substance – they are scientifically required. Important medical breakthroughs could not have been developed without animal studies. Also, regulatory authorities require new substances to be tested on animals so they can be proven safe and effective. That does not stop us from actively researching alternative methods to animal studies and replacing them wherever possible.

Can the results from animal studies actually be applied to humans?

In most cases, yes. Based on sequenced genomes and biochemical insights, scientists can usually draw significant conclusions on the effects – both intended and possibly adverse – a drug might have in the human body based on animal studies.

What are “alternative methods” and what are the limitations?

These are study and test methods that involve fewer animals, or that dispense with the need for animals altogether. Bayer works actively to develop and use these alternative methods. The use of alternative methods is still limited because they are still not as informative as animal studies.

In which research areas are animal studies conducted at Bayer?

In the areas of health (Pharmaceuticals division) and crop protection (Crop Science division).

Why don’t scientists use alternative methods such as computer simulations more frequently?

Computer simulations are an integral part of most of our projects. They can simulate simple physiological processes within a specified framework. This can be very valuable, but they cannot yet completely replace animal studies.

Care and Use of Animals

Where do the laboratory animals come from?

Almost exclusively from qualified and specially licensed laboratory animal breeders who are continuously monitored by the veterinary authorities and the Animal Welfare Officer. A few exceptions to this are agricultural livestock and fish, for which there are no special breeders. Bayer obtains these animals from selected farms and fisheries.

Which animal species does Bayer use for research?

Mainly rodents, particularly mice and rats. This is because their physiology is very similar to the human body. Regulatory authorities usually require studies in both rodents and non-rodents.

Who looks after the laboratory animals at Bayer?

A team of professionals e.g. veterinarians, biologists and animal caretakers, who work closely with the Animal Management Institute and the Animal Welfare Officer. Their efforts closely follow the German Animal Welfare Law to feed, train and house animals in an appropriate manner for their species.

Who monitors animal studies?

At Bayer, animal studies are monitored by the Animal Welfare Officers. The regulatory veterinary authorities also carry out random inspections.

What happens to an animal at the end of an experiment?

Dogs or cats are entered into an adoption program whenever possible. If laboratory animals have to be euthanized after the study, appropriate and authorized methods are used.

Commitments, Requirements and Ethics

What is Bayer’s position on animal studies?

Animal studies are essential for a research-based life science company like us. About 90% of the animal studies we conduct are legally required. Animal research plays an important role in ensuring that the benefits of our products outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, we engage actively in 3R research (reduce, refine and replace animal studies) and use alternative methods to animal studies wherever reasonable. For more information about our principles for animal welfare and animal studies take a look at our white paper.

What kind of laws and guidelines have to be followed by Bayer?

The legal basis in Germany is the German Animal Welfare Law, and in Europe it is the European Union (EU) Directive 2010/63. These laws specify that the number of animal studies conducted must be kept to the absolute minimum required, and that animals can only be used in a study if its objectives cannot be achieved by other methods. Bayer also has to comply with the European guidelines and German Medicines Act. These laws require an active ingredient to be tested in animals before entering clinical trials.

Are animal studies of external laboratories monitored by Bayer?

We have a program in place to make sure that all our external partners are monitored and inspected on a regular basis.

According to the German Animal Welfare Law, animals are our fellow creatures. How can it be justifiable at all to sacrifice them for research purposes?

Medical and pharmaceutical studies in animals are not an end in and of themselves. They are justified because they improve the health and well-being of humans, and also of animals, depending on the product to be developed. Most drugs used in sick or injured animals are often just slight variations of human medicines. Active ingredients such as antibiotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatory and cancer drugs are used in human medicine.

Conducting animal studies always demands a high level of responsibility. Animals must be spared any unnecessary suffering. All Bayer employees involved in animal studies are educated about this and receive appropriate training in order to meet this important requirement.

Animals are our fellow creatures and must be protected and treated accordingly. This is the ethical basis for legal requirements and for Bayer’s principles. Animal studies may only be conducted if they are expected to be of significant benefit to the health of humans and animals. At Bayer, it goes without saying that everything is done to minimize any suffering by animals. And all new studies are carefully reviewed to make sure they are really necessary. One of the consequences of these efforts is that the number of laboratory animals at Bayer has decreased continuously in recent years.